By (Cdt) CP02 Allister Bakelmun
It is early morning. The wind is rough, the water more so. Nonetheless, 50 Sea Cadets from across the country are competing in the highlight of their cadet careers. This is the National Sea Cadet Regatta, where the finest sailors the program can offer all compete for their spot on the podium.
But sailing is much more than just a competition. And that is very much the case. There is so much passion and commitment to this sport, you can see it even before they get out on the water. For these sailors, it is a focal point to the Sea Cadet identity.
After spending six weeks of sailing at either Kingston, Alouette, Comox or Cornwallis, the top sailors of each region pour into CORK, the Canadian Olympic Regatta Kingston, a world-renown sailing facility. Rain or shine, the cadets throw themselves out into the water for as many races as they can, not even returning for lunch.
Working on two-man sailboats, tensions can arise, but the strong teams quell any difficulties. “What happens on the water stays on the water,” says Riley Naddeau, from RCSCC 357 Hero, in Espanola, Ontario. This was his fourth Sea Cadet regatta, though he has plans for Olympic-level racing. Both he and his crewmate, Sydney Hanratty, of RCSCC 40 Falkland of Ottawa, placed 3rd overall.
A strong team dynamic is essential to success. On the last day of the regatta, only the top 10 teams compete for the first, second and third trophies. This is done based on a point standing, where the least points you have the higher ranked you are. Despite the reputation of years past, the northwest region led a strong assault, placing first in the standings, with three northwest teams competing for the trophies.
But it isn’t about winning. For these cadets, it’s about sailing. There were no change room-style conflicts that you hear of professional athletes. Sportsmanship is a strong display here, and an award is given to the team with the most sportsmanship.
The regatta is truly a demonstration of both athletic and team capabilities, as well as an assurance that the future of our nation will be in good hands. In the end, the awards ceremony was overseen by the Deputy Commander of the RCN, Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier. Northwest came in first place, to the shock of many competitors and fans alike. Two teams from central placed second and third. But despite that, all teams were happy, for they could compete.
Sebastian Wright, of 350 RCSCC Transcona, Winnipeg, is one of the first-place team members. “Sailing is the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done,” he said, as well as recognizing the coaches he has had over his years of sailing with the cadet program. “(Sea Cadets) presents a unique opportunity for a lifelong sport,” Wright said in closing.
A lifelong sport indeed. Some cadets had their last Sea Cadet regatta, some have more to come. But none of them intend to stop sailing. The 12 Atlantic region cadets had truly hit it on the nose. “To sail is to live.”